Alex Cockburn once called Rush the “dirigible of drivel.” Indeed.
I worked as a truck driver for years for Roadway (RPS), UPS and FedEx (a job I really enjoyed btw-people of all stripes are genuinely very respectful to package delivery folk, and I loved the uniform, particularly the shorts), but I digress. My truck always had Wisconsin Public Radio on but most trucks, and at most loading docks, Rush Limbaugh was the noise of choice.
I was a full-on leftoid by the early 90’s and his brand of shock jockery and “conservatism” were viscerally repulsive to my core. But I thought about him a lot because in the white male working class of south-central Wisconsin, he was king.
In my mind his appeal was similar to Howard Stern’s. They said out loud what by the 80s and 90s was socially unacceptable.
For lots of white men, who felt de-masculated by the broad sweep of the civil rights movement (I’m using the term broadly for all of the liberation movements of the mid to late 20th century) Rush gave them, in his juvenile way, license to say sexist and racist things out loud. He empowered them in a time when their power was declining.
Add in de-industrialization and you have the recipe for the “conservative” movement and eventually Trumpist revanchism.
They gleefully punched down and celebrated war more than anything else. Women and black people were his topics of choice menacingly referring to people that dared to demand equality for women “femiNazis.” He constantly spoke in “black voice” and when Barack Obama became president he created a “parody” song called Barack the Magic Negro. Not an hour went by without an insult, and for Rush who were the ultimate victims? Who was actually losing as a result of civil rights for all and the welfare state? Him and his fellow tribe. They in the end were the ultimate snow flakes; the entire time accusing everyone else of the condition.
One aspect of his AM broadcasts that is similar to free television of the last 30 years or so is the incredible amount of scammery that exists on these stations, mostly targeted to the elderly and infirm of mind. Gold coins, medicare scams, bizarre class action suits, home security systems, food supplements, superfluous medicines and countless other schemes to separate the feeble minded from their money were, and are, the main advertisers.
It seemed a tell to me.
His legacy is toxic-giving white men in particular license to claim victimhood in an effort to line the pockets of the ultra-rich and beat back the the democratic movements of the last 70 years.
Happily, this dirigible has finally crashed.